Guest Post by Beth of Red and Honey

Are you working to ditch processed foods and put more real food on the table? This month we’re continuing a series called Real Food Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide to Eating Better. Our goal is to answer the questions you might have and make the transition a whole lot easier!

I was a starry-eyed young bride at the tender age of nineteen, and the day we unpacked cardboard boxes in our wee bachelor suite I was in my glory. My newly minted husband and I made innumerable messes in the kitchen as we baked and stirred and experimented together, finding our groove together.

I applied my modest kitchen skills with gusto. I used to pore over cookbooks (these days I just take my laptop into the kitchen with me) and try new things at pretty well every meal.

The years ran away from us, as they tend to do, and here we find ourselves a decade into the future with a trio of cute kiddos and a minivan, still chopping and sizzling away in the kitchen.

One of the classics that I learned early in my adulthood that I still absolutely love to make is a simple roasted chicken.

Some people find the idea of roasting a chicken quite intimidating. I actually think it’s one of the easiest things you can do.

With a little bit of knowledge anyone can make a roast chicken dinner that is delicious and impressive, worthy of your coziest of Sunday dinner tables. Classic comfort food at its finest.

What Kind of Chicken Should I Choose?

Free-range chickens that peck around eating dirt and bugs are best. That’s what they were designed to do, which results in a healthier bird and better nutritional content.

Organic is always good too, of course. To be honest, my personal preference (if I had to choose just one) would be for free-range over organic, but that’s just me.

Other important considerations are what kind of feed is used to supplement the diet, whether they are given antibiotics, and how much space they are given to roam (hint: the grocery store version of so-called “free-range” is not what you think!).

The best way to be confident in your choice is to talk to your meat supplier and ask questions. Try to find a small, local farmer who cares.

The How-To’s:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
  2. When you buy a whole chicken, it will generally come wrapped in plastic. Unwrap it, and if there are giblets inside, remove them. You can leave them in the pan if you want to – they add flavor to the gravy.
  3. Place the chicken in a roasting pan and add water. I use a pan just bigger than the chicken, and I add about an inch of water. The chicken drippings will add to this as it cooks, which will be the base of your gravy. No need for store-bought broth or bouillon!
  4. At this point you can do whatever “extras” you want. Some people like to rub butter under the skin and throw a lemon into the body cavity; some like to just sprinkle a little salt and pepper. I like to add liberal doses of real sea salt and fresh ground pepper, with a nice sprinkling of dried rosemary. I love the subtle rosemary flavor that ends up in my gravy too. There are a bajillion different options for flavoring here – experiment to find your favorite! You may also want to add potatoes and veggies into the pan for baking in the juices, but be aware that you will have way less liquid for gravy-making.
  5. Place the covered pan in the oven for the designated amount of time according to the chart below.
  6. Be sure to check your temperature with a meat thermometer. Stick it in the fleshy part, and only partway through. You can also check for doneness by poking near the drumsticks, and if the juices run clear it’s done or nearly done (check the temperature too).

What Else to Serve: 

The chicken may be the star of the show in a roast chicken dinner, but I happen to love the side dishes even more. I was always the kid that took seconds on veggies and declined dessert. Three pregnancies later and I have a bit of a sweet tooth problem, but I do still love my veggies!

Here are some recipes for delicious side dishes that would be great choices alongside your perfectly roasted chicken:

Roasted Asparagus

Homemade French Fries

Sweet Potato and Feta Mash

Cheesy Green Bean Casserole

Easy Oven-Roasted Potatoes

Moroccan Carrots

Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

Savory Herb Stuffing

Gluten-Free Garden Herb Biscuits

Golden Carrot Bake

Garlic Carrot Potatoes

And for a simple but decadent, make-ahead dessert treat, try this chocolate coconut macaroons recipe. Not a single unhealthy ingredient in them, and dang, do they ever taste good!

Other posts in the series:

Real Food Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide to Eating Better

First Steps to Real Food

What Is Real Food?

Cutting Your Kitchen Prep Time in Half — Or More!

Confessions of a Formerly Picky Eater

How to Read Food Labels

The Grain Controversy: Should We Eat Them or Not?

Second Steps Towards Eating Real Foods: Switching Your Food Sources

Sweeteners: How They Affect You, Which Ones are Best, and How to Use Them

Simple Steps to Begin Cooking Homemade: Pantry Staples

5 Strategies to Help Your Husband and Kids Transition to Real Food 

7 Foods to Avoid

Finding Real Food in the Grocery Store

20 Easy Real Food Switches and Substitutions {with Free Printable Chart}

First Steps to Eating for Fertility

Keeping Costs Down in a Real Food Kitchen

Raising Kids on Real Food

5 Ways to Get More Fruits & Veggies into your Diet

Food Is Not Cheap: 4 Steps to Budgeting in Real Food

Simple Steps to Begin Cooking Homemade: Baked Goods

17 Homemade Spice Mixes {with Recipes & Why You Should Use Them!}

5 Ways Green Living and Real Food are Connected

Simple Steps to Begin Cooking Homemade: Soups, Sauces, and Simple Dinners

When did you roast your first chicken? What’s your favorite flavor option? What sides do you serve with roast chicken?

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links.